Book Review

Book Review | Uncanny Sally by W. Lawrence

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Uncanny Sally, a short story by W. Lawrence who you may know from Synching Forward which sets up this universe.

Reading Synching Forward isn’t a prerequisite for reading this as it works as a standalone novel, but if you have, you’ll have a deeper understanding on what drives our protagonist, Amara.

The Blurb:

Sergeant Agent Amara James of the Department of Homeland Defense is reassigned from her anti-terrorism task force to investigate a murder. A popular actress has been found dead at the Sathee Robotics facility, and Amara’s investigation will uncover our inventions sometimes mimic us too closely. Uncanny Sally is a whydunnit told in the asimovian style that will keep you guessing till the very end.

The Syncing In series complements the novel Syncing Forward, following the investigations of Amara James as she desperately tries to find a cure for her father. These novelettes can be read and enjoyed independently from the original novel.

This is a hard-boiled detective techno-thriller set in the universe W. Lawrence created in Synching Forward. The story is narrated by Agent Amara as she recounts a recent case she solved. She’s recording her life so that when her father returns he can get to know who she is. Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review | The Fantastic Fable of Peter Able by Natalie Grigson

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It’s tough being a fictional character. Peter, a now adult Boy Wizard, has been abandoned by his writer and left to fend for himself in the land of fiction.

The Fantastic Fable of Peter Able by Natalie Grigson showed up during my Kindle Scout campaign as a previous winner. I enjoy tales of characters left behind so was keen to check this one out. Peter and his pals in this one, the cast of NPCs by Drew Hayes and so on.

First, let’s check out the blurb:

The Fantastic Fable of Peter Able is a fantasy novel – with a twist. You see, Peter is a Boy Wizard. Or rather, Peter is an adult Boy Wizard who lives in the land of Fiction. His Real World author has abruptly concluded his series, and Peter is suddenly free to explore his world, liberated from the almighty Plotline. Of course the transition into free will isn’t exactly an easy one, and there are plenty of Twists and Turns to keep our Protagonist guessing along the way. After all, this is Fiction.

In the vein of authors like Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett, this book will delight fans, not just of fantasy, but of literature in general. There are plenty of familiar faces from Fiction appearing throughout, as well as many new ones, like Peter, the charming Randy, and a ficus tree named Bob – who, let’s be honest, doesn’t really have a face.

I know what you’re thinking: yet another story about a boy wizard. Well, don’t despair; yes Peter is a boy wizard but Harry Potter this is not.

This is an incredibly fun tale of what happens to fictional characters once their writers have abandoned them, or once their series have come to an end. It starts just as Peter realizes he is now free of his writer’s whims and can do what he likes… if he can work out how to open the door. Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review | Critical Failures V by Robert Bevan

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Robert Bevan is someone I’ve been reading for a long time now, getting into his books a few years back and reading them all multiple times. His latest book in the series, Critical Failures V, has left me a little on the fence.

While each book in the series so far has followed the standard formula of problem at start -> solved at end + new cliff-hanger (introduced to keep you wanting the next one), this one meandered along without much urgency and ended without any real satisfaction.

In this one, the expanding cast of unique characters has been split into multiple groups as they set out to find Tim who they believe is trying to abandon them all in the game. The splitting of the party was something I particularly enjoyed as it allowed some lesser characters the chance to shine on their own, giving us a chance to get to know them better.

Mister Bevan does a great job at pulling together all the divergent paths the characters have taken by the end, but this is where it fell down for me. I looked at the progress bar on my Kindle and thought it must have been malfunctioning. It said 99% and I felt that the climax of the book was about to kick into gear, but instead I was left with a cliff-hanger ending without any real feeling of satisfaction.

I would have gladly waited another 6 months or a year or more to have this storyline play out to a more satisfactory conclusion. As it is, it feels like I only read half a book, and for a book that’s close to 100,000 words, it felt kind of short. Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review | The Big Sleep by Meaghan Gray

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I very nearly passed this one by but now that I’ve finished it I’m glad that I didn’t. I say I almost passed it by because the way the opening chapters are written didn’t appeal to me. The quick chopping and jumping around between dreams was off-putting, but I skipped past them to where the real story starts. The opening is basically prologue and, thinking back on it now, could be dropped all together.

I get that we need to know the origins of what is happening, but I think it could be worked into the story much easier than how this book opens. Not all styles appeal to all people of course, so you might be different, but I found it difficult.

That said, once the real story starts just before the second Big Sleep, the plot takes off at a fast clip and barely slows down. It was this that kept me reading and why ultimately I enjoyed the book, even if I didn’t like the opening.

Mostly set inside the dream world, Ms Gray does an excellent job of keeping believability alive while injecting plenty of fantasy elements that could only be conjured up in a dream. The concept of the Greymen and the world they inhabit and what they do was a new one for me and were one of the things that piqued my curiosity about this novel in the first place.

A nice fat twist towards the end of the novel makes me want to read the next one, so I’ll be keeping my eyes open for the next book in this series.

The only other notes I made while reading this was Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review | Frogkisser! by Garth Nix

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This one snuck onto my list when I was about to begin reading something entirely different. It popped up in my GoodReads list as an “also read”, and the cover and title intrigued me enough I had to check it out. It looked fun, and I enjoyed the sample so grabbed myself a copy and got stuck into reading it.

Frogkisser! by Garth Nix is a fun tale full of re-imagined versions of your typical fairy-tale happenings such as princesses stuck with evil step-parents (or in this case, step-step-parents), princes turned to frogs, talking dogs, and even an appearance by Snow White and the Seven Dwarves… though not in the way you might expect.

As always, the blurb before we get too much further:

Talking dogs. Mischievous wizards. An evil step-stepfather. Loads and loads of toads. Such is the life of a Frogkisser.

Princess Anya needs to see a wizard about a frog. It’s not her frog, it’s her sister’s. And it’s not a frog, it’s actually a prince. A prince who was once in love with Anya’s sister, but has now been turned into a frog by their evil step-stepfather. And Anya has made a ‘sister promise’ that she will find a way to return Prince Denholm to human form…

So begins an exciting, hilarious, irreverent quest through the Kingdom of Trallonia and out the other side, in a fantastical tale for all ages, full of laughs and danger, surprises and delights, and an immense population of frogs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review | Dreadnought by April Daniels

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I’m on a bit of a heroine kick at the moment – FYI – I just made myself triple check the spelling of that to make sure it didn’t come across as something else entirely. Between what I have read and a number of books I plan on reading next there are quite a few female protagonists in my future.

This book – Dreadnought by April Daniels – came through my WordPress feed thanks to Reading Sanctuary, and after reading their review and checking out a sample I was hooked. I grabbed a copy of the full novel that same night. Narrated by our heroine Danny in a close first person perspective, you can’t help but get sucked into her world.

Quick Note About This Review

This is the first time I took notes as I read to help me when it came time write the review. Usually I just wing it and try to remember the salient points, but this is an effort to make the reviews I post better.

First up, the blurb: Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review | The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

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Sometimes poking around random GoodReads lists pays off big time. That’s certainly the case with this one – The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig. I grabbed the sample chapters from Amazon and knew right off it was one I’d lose myself in, and after I bought the full story, I found I was right.

A time-travelling pirate ship? Count me in right there. But there was so much more to love about this novel. Lost love, adventures through time, romance, action, myths brought to life, redemption. Plenty to keep you busy. But first, as always, let’s check out the blurb.

Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveler. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times – although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in question . . .

Nix has grown used to her father’s obsession, but only because she’s convinced it can’t work. But then a map falls into her father’s lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it’s that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.

Nix and her crew mates can travel anywhere in history (including to fictional worlds), so long as they have a hand-drawn map of where they want to go. The kicker though is once they’ve used a map they can never return because maps are only good for one trip. The “how” is fairly wishy-washy, in that you have to believe in the map and it’ll take you there. No less implausible than other time-travelling devices though, so I don’t fault it on that. Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review | The Amateurs by John Niven

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amateursWhile on my search for a new book to read I came across an oldie but goodie that I’ve read countless times – The Amateurs by John Niven. If I was to make a list of the all-time funniest books I’ve ever read, this’d be very high on the list.

I bought this way back in 2009 (I think?) after reading the blurb and knowing it was for me. This was back when I still bought paperbacks, so I even imported it from the UK because I couldn’t wait for shops in Australia to carry it.

I’m not a golfer, but you don’t have to be to enjoy this story. Yes, the main character is obsessed with it but mainly because how bad he is at it. Until one fateful day he cops a golf ball to the head and his whole life changes. Sort of for the better, but a lot for the worse… Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review | Dinosaurs and Prime Numbers by Tom Moran

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Another suggestion by Goodreads and another home run. My profile over there is obviously tweaked to perfection because it’s been recommending a lot of winners recently, and Dinosaurs and Prime Numbers by Tom Moran was no exception.

If you were to merge Arthur Dent with Mister Bean and add them to a Sherlock Holmes mystery, you’d get something similar to this book. Walton Cumberfield is a character you can’t help but laugh at and with as he struggles on through his adventure. Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review | A Matter of Scale by Jonathon Burgess

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matter_of_scale_smallI happened across this short story by Jonathon Burgess after an email from instaFreebie. It’s a fun short story you can read entirely on your lunchbreak (as I did) and is an great introduction (possibly a prologue?) for future novels.

The author lists is as the first in a series called The Blackscale Chronicles, which I’ll be interested in reading once they’re published.

A Matter of Scale is not available (at time of writing) from Amazon, but you can get it for free (well, for the cost of your email address) by signing up to the Author’s mailing list – http://www.brasshorsebooks.com/the-blackscale-chronicle/. Read the rest of this entry »